EV charging dictionary: Most common terms explained

EV charging is a dynamic new technology – and with this comes plenty of new language. Our experts created this explainer on some of the most common terms in EV charging. So, learn the lingo, use it with confidence, and impress your friends!
In this guide:

What is an EV charger?

When you get an electric car, you need to think about where to charge it. A charger is a physical device that allows an electric vehicle to recharge their battery. EV chargers can have private or public accessibility, and vary by power and connector/plug type.

Please note that the terms charger, charging point and charging station are often used interchangeably.

Public chargers

Many people don’t have their own driveway or designated parking, so they need to charge on street or in public parking garages. They need to use chargers that can also be used by other drivers. We call these chargers public or semi-public. Semi-public indicates they can be used by others, but not by everyone – think ‘visitors at an office park’ or ‘only guests at a sports facility’.

Public chargers are crucial to the adoption of EVs. More public chargers makes EV charging accessible and easier for drivers. In the Netherlands, public charging is well-developed and you can already find hundreds of thousands of AC and DC chargers on the public network. Chargers are part of larger charging networks operated by companies called Charge Point Operators, or CPOs. Examples of CPOs in the Netherlands include Equans and TotalEnergies.

What is the price per kWh of a public charger?

We recommend that you use an app like Tap where you can check prices often as there can be big price differences between equivalent chargers within walking distance of each other.

For most chargers, you only pay a price per kWh. However, we’re starting to see some chargers with complex pricing, where your price can vary throughout your session.

Some charger owners and operators may also charge you for:

  • Starting cost where you pay a flat fee to plug into the charger
  • Idle price that kicks in when your car is not charging anymore and still plugged in
  • Hourly price where you pay for every hour that your car is plugged in to the charger

Want to know what’s a fair price to pay in the Netherlands? Read our research on the average price per kWh that Dutch drivers pay to charge their car and why price spread matters.

Private chargers

Any charger that is not accessible to the general public is a private charger. These can be found in homes, residences, offices and businesses with charging access only for residents, employees or certain driver groups.

With a platform like Tap, more owners can connect their charger to the public network and can earn every time a driver uses their charger with our free charger management platform. You can even enable free charging for certain drivers, while billing full price to others.

Why does charger power matter?

Power is the rate energy is transferred, measured in watts or kilowatts. Power differs between AC and DC chargers.

What is AC charging?

AC charging uses an alternating current (AC) to charge an electric vehicle. AC chargers generally have a power of less than 23 kW. Most drivers use AC chargers to charge their car day to day, as they’re more accessible on public charging networks, cheaper to install and operate, and thus more affordable to use.

What is DC charging or fast charging?

DC charging or fast charging uses direct current (DC) to charge an electric vehicle. DC chargers use a charging method that delivers higher power for faster charging times. They usually start with a power of 50kW, although there are some DC chargers with less power. Some have a capability to deliver over 350 kW. Fastned and Ionity are examples of fast charging networks.

Why do I need a charging cable?

A cable is used to connect an electric vehicle to a charging point. These cables come in various types depending on the country charging standard, connector types and power levels. On most public chargers you need to bring your own cable so make sure to have one in your car.

But first…

charging refer to speeds of EV charging –we could get into more complexities around voltage, power output but the important takeaway is the higher the level the faster the charging time. Level 1 is often associated with standard household outlets, Level 2 with public chargers or home chargers and Level 3 with dedicated fast charging chargers.

Types of charging cables

AC charging cables

Used for Level 1 and Level 2 charging, typically have a Type 2 connector for European standards or a Type 1 connector for North American and Asian standards.

DC fast charging cables

Designed for Level 3 and often have larger connectors and thicker cables to handle higher power levels. The CCS (Combined Charging System) connector is used for Europe and North America and CHAdeMO is used more in Asia.

Connector types

3 pin charger

This is 3-prong household plug that can adapt a car to a normal wall socket. Given it’s limitations in voltage and current, it’s also known as a ‘granny charger’ as it can take up to a day or two to fully charge your car. It is generally only recommended in case there is no other option.

Type 1

Its standard name is SAE J1772 which stands for Society of Automotive Engineers Joint Technical Committee 1772.

It was widely adopted in the early days of electric vehicle development and can still be found in cars in North America and some parts of Asia for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. These are not seen in Europe.

Type 2

Its standard name is IEC 62196-2 or International Electrotechnical Commission. It is also commonly referred to in Europe as a Mennekes plug.

It’s widely used in Europe and many international automakers and becoming a global standard for Level 1 and Level 2 charging. Type 2 connectors are also used for Level 3 or DC fast charging in Europe making them a super versatile connector.

CCS (Combined Charging System)

This is a standard for EV charging that combines Type 1 and Type 2 into a single, compact connector – so it can be used for both AC and DC charging.

It supports a wide range of DC charging power levels from 20 KW to over 350 kW.

Many new electric vehicle models have adopted this connector design for its versatility and international standardisation. The latest CCS versions have bi-directional capabilities for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) applications.

CHAdeMo (Charging DC Electric Mobility)

ChAdeMo stands for “Charge de Move” or “Charge for Moving”.

It’s a fast-charging standard globally used for direct current (DC) in electric vehicles developed by the CHAdeMO Association.

As a method of fast charging, it supports various power levels from 50 kW, with its latest versions exceeding 400 kW. It also supports bi-directional charging for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and vehicle-to-home (V2H) applications.

This plug type is on its way out, as the last vehicle manufacturer that was using this standard has announced it will move to CCS.

What is charging capacity?

This refers to the rate at which an electric vehicles battery can be charged. It’s often measured in kilowatts (kW) and determines the maximum rate of energy that can be transferred during charging.

Factors that can influence a car’s charging capacity:

  • Power of the charger
  • Your car’s onboard charger capabilities
  • Your car’s battery management system. This system optimizes power intake to protect the battery based on its limits for charging and discharging under various conditions.

What is a charging management platform?

A charging management platform is a software solution that controls and optimises the charging process for electric vehicles within charging infrastructure.

At Tap we offer free, feature-packed charger management platform where you can manage your chargers, including scheduling and energy management at scale.

Features you can find on Tap include:

  • Set kWh price, starting costs and idle fees based on user access
  • Set who can see and use your charger
  • Comprehensive reporting of charge sessions with energy and cost
  • Flexible payout options, including service plans for installers and operators

What is energy consumption?

In the context of EV charging, it refers to the amount of electrical energy used to recharge your car’s battery. The amount of energy used or consumed, often measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh), which indicates the power consumption over time.

For example, according to EV database, the Tesla model 3 has 57.5 kWh of useable battery.

What is a mobility service provider (MSP)?

These are companies, like Tap Electric, that offer a service to help you find chargers, configure your charge session and pay in one app. Providers often have an app and charge card for their drivers. Within the EV charging eco-system, they are between the EV driver and the Charge Point Operator (CPO). Operators are responsible for the installation and maintenance of the charging infrastructure.

What is a charging app?

A charging app can help you find available chargers, check pricing, pay for charging, and more. Apps are often developed by or for mobility service providers (MSPs). It’s worth checking out many apps as each provider develops their apps differently – not all apps are transparent with prices for example!

In the Tap app, you get complete pricing information for every operator, and real-time session costs during your session. You can even compare pricing with different MSPs to make sure you are getting a good deal with Tap.

What is an EV charge card, charge key or RFID card?

MSPs make roaming agreements with many CPOs so their drivers can use one app or RFID card to access all these networks of chargers.

This card or key is an access device that enables users to initiate and pay for charging sessions on the public network. It is a form of user authentication and payment method so that drivers can easily access chargers on an MSP’s network. The CPO bills the MSP, and the MSP bills the driver for all sessions that they initiate with their card (or app).

Although it’s possible to get a charge card without a subscription, typically you get the most value if you do subscribe.

With every Tap subscription you can save on your charging costs and some even have a free Tapkey. You can use our Tapkey on any charger you can see on our charge map, and track your charge session in the app.

To use an RFID key, simply tap it against the card reader on the face of the charger to start a session, and tap it again to stop.

What is OCPI (Open Charge Point Interface)?

OCPI is an international open standard that facilitates cloud-to-cloud communication between roaming partners. This protocol helps providers get access to public charging networks that are hosted on other management systems, and exchange information so that their drivers can charge on different networks.

What is OCPP (Open Charge Point Protocol)?​

OCPP is an open and widely adopted protocol that facilitates cloud-to charger communication between a management system and a charger. Think of it as a common language for chargers and central management systems to exchange information and commands that cover aspects of charging like status updates, transaction information, and configuration parameters.

What is smart charging?

This refers to the intelligent control of how and when an EV is charged. Unlike standard charging, which starts and continues until the battery is full or the session is stopped, smart charging optimises charging times and energy consumption.

When you connect your home charger to Tap and have a home dynamic energy contract in the Netherlands, you can use our dynamic tariff optimiser program. This program optimises charging speeds to automatically find the cheapest moments to charge for your dynamic energy contract at home. This follows the dynamic tariffs offered by Tibber, Frank, ANWB, Eneco and others. The best part? It’s free!

What is Vehicle-2-Grid (V2G)?

This technology enables electric vehicles to have bi-directional interactions with the electrical grid.

What is Bi-directional charging?

The ability of an electrical vehicle to not only draw power from the charger, but also discharge power back to the electrical grid.

With this technology, electrical vehicles can provide various services to the grid by charging and discharging energy from their batteries such as:

  • Peak shaving: discharging power during peak demand periods to reduce congestion on the grid.
  • Load balancing: adjusting power flow to balance the overall electricity demand.
  • Grid stability: contributing to grid stability during fluctuations in demand or supply.


There are benefits and challenges to V2G programs.


  • Grid support: Electric vehicles, particularly in fleet operations or other large aggregated asset portfolios, can provide predictable additional sources of power to enhance the resilience and stability of the grid.
  • Drivers can earn money: EV owners can turn their vehicles into grid assets and earn money by participating in these programs.



  • Battery degradation: Ongoing research and pilot programs are ongoing to understand the impact of frequent charge and discharge cycles on the lifespan of a battery.


Regulations and protocols: Adoption of this technology is influenced by these frameworks and need for standardisation.

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